ATTU By Maurice Reeves

                                                            ATTU ....

                  Thanks! To MAURICE REEVES, The Following Excerpts
                  Are From His Articles Published In The 13TH Engineer
                  And 7TH ID. Association Newsletters. 

                      Once the battle of Midway had been decided in June 1942 Japanese plans turned
                      to Alaska. The Japanese needing a base in the Aleutians for a possible invasion of
                      the U.S., occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska during that month. In May 1943,
                      the Allies plan was to recover Attu, the furthest island in the Aleutian chain,
                      isolating the Japanese troops on Kiska, the next American target. 

                      There was little that seemed to go as planned for the Attu campaign. The landing
                      of the assault troops came off days late because of bad weather and high seas.
                      The troops were ill - equipped to do the job. The winter clothing/gear was not
                      adequate for the cold wet Aleutians. 

                      The following report concerning the task of the Engineers is by
                      CLARENCE ZARN Platoon Leader B Company 13th Engineer
                      Battalion. ZARN later was Company Commander of C
                      Company during the Leyte and Okinawa campaigns. BASIL
                      AHERN, Platoon Sgt. also contributed some informtion. 

                      We landed in the first wave with the Northern Landing Force on Red Beach,
                      North Arm of Holz Bay to clear any mines, if found and facilitate a supply road
                      as the troops moved inland. Our landing initially was undetected. The beach was
                      secured and supplies and equipment were unloaded by the navy. Two major
                      obstacles developed, one was the Aleutian tundra, which was a problem for all
                      units as the campaign developed. The other problem called for an immediate
                      answer. There was a high bluff rising 150 feet above the landing beach some
                      300-400 yards from the shoreline. The bluff dropped downward vertically about
                      10 feet and then sloped toward the shoreline on an angle of one vertical to one
                      and a half horizontal. The Engineers mission: Get the Infantry, weapons,
                      ammunition and supplies to the top of that bluff and be prepared to assist the
                      medics in returning casualties to the beach area and then on to the Navy hospital

                      The Engineers first cut a makeshift stairway along the face of the bluff, with
                      everything going up or down that stairway trail. This lasted one day. The platoon
                      fostered a plan to get their mission underway with the help of the navy. Someone
                      remembered seeing a large coil of 7/8' cable aboard one of the ships. This was
                      secured from the navy together with a large diameter sheave (like a pulley). The
                      intent was to construct a "deadman" on top of the bluff. The Engineers scouted
                      the beach for flotsam and by a miracle (we believe) a tree trunk about 15 feet
                      long and 2 feet in diameter at the small end was found. Some say it was the only
                      tree on Attu! The plan was to bury the "deadman" (tree trunk) about eight feet
                      deep, fasten the large sheave above ground to the tree trunk, then thread the
                      1,000 foot cable thru the sheave on the bluff surface so that the cable was divided
                      equally and extended down the bluff to a improvised "elevator". 

                      To put the "elevator" into service a bulldozer was fastened to one end of the
                      cable and an improvised sled to be loaded with ammunition, artillery weapons,
                      food, etc. was attached to the other end of the cable. As the dozer moved
                      shoreward away from the bluff, the sled was pulled to the top. These supplies
                      and weapons would then be unloaded and moved forward to the troops by hand
                      carry or weasel units pulling sled pallets. By alternate action the sleds were pulled
                      up and down the slope , bringing casualties on the way down. The simple idea
                      expedited the action on Attu and bought time until a road could be constructed up
                      the side of the bluff. 

                      It was not until May 27, 1943 that the Hourglass units appeared to have control
                      of the island. But the Japanese Commander Col. Yamasaki was not through. Two
                      days later the ennemy, in a desperate, final charge launched a full scaled attack
                      towards Clevesy Pass in an attempt to drive to Massacre Valley. It would have no
                      chance for success except for an order received by B Co. 32nd Infantry Regt.
                      ordering them to report to the regimental kitchen. No one knows how this order
                      came to be sent to B Company nor is there any record. 

                      They were finally STOPPED at ENGINEER HILL as MAJOR GEORGE
                      COOKSON EX. OFFICER 13TH ENGINEER BN. Took Comand of an
                      assortment of Medics, Artillery Men and Engineers. (With LT. ROBERT
                      McARTHUR'S A Company 13TH ENGINEERS Who had prepared an
                      emergency plan for his Company.) As the ennemy advanced the troops fell back
                      slowly taking advantage of the high ground. This defensive action gradually
                      forced the attackers back toward Clevesy Pass where they were mopped up. By
                      May 30 organized resistance had collapsed. The men of the 13TH ENGINEERs
                      are PROUD of their accomplishments in WWI,WWII, KOREA and PANAMA.